Found this neg sitting in an envelope in the bottom of a box of odds and ends. That's my fantastic filing system for you. I hadn't seen it for more than 30 years.
It was taken from the balcony of the control tower at the end of the runway on a filthy rain-soaked winter afternoon in 1947 and shows Lancaster Whisky Papa Sugar with its engines on full chat for take off just before the pilot released the brakes.
Technically it's a lousy pic. The aircraft was vibrating, there's camera shake from the slow shutter speed, it's underexposed on thick base coarse grained cut-down aerial reconnaissance film in a 16 on 127 camera with the f/4.5 lens wide open and developed in a deep tank of meritol-caustic, something akin to brown Windsor soup, but I like it.
I remember I took it in rather a hurry because I was struck with the way the sky cleared behind the plane, and I think with all its faults its got a sort of vintage charm.
Thanks, Bob, I thought maybe it was just nostalgia ... you know ... We shall never see their like again ... and all that. The sound of four Merlins on full boost had to be heard to be believed. It shook the ground.
Nope sorry, simlar in a way - four engines, twin rudders etc, but this is an Avro Lancaster, the mainstay of RAF Bomber Command's heavy bombers. Slower than a Liberator, less defensive armament (.303 machine guns) and with a lower ceiling - they usually bombed from about 14,000 feet - but a heavier bomb load. This is is why it was used only at night. It would have been almost defenceless against daylight concentrated fighter attack by ME109s and FW190s with 20mm canons.
IIRC the B24s and B17s of the US Eighth in Europe, with more gun positions and 0.5 in guns, were used mainly for daylight raiding in tightly-knit defensive formations. Even so, the losses against fighters were hideous. I had - and still have - the greatest admiration for the courage and morale of the young American crews.
The blur/shake, looks almost more like fog/mist....
To add to the blur/shake there was driving rain from the left, which may have contributed to the effect (and to the camera shake!). I had to wipe the camera dry afterwards.
The Spitfire and Hurricane of that memorial flight flew over our house last summer (the Lanc wasn't with them). I knew instantly what they were without even looking outside. Once heard, never ever forgotten.